Justin Bullock, FISM News
On President Biden’s first day in office, he signed an executive order killing what is known as the Keystone XL Pipeline (KXL) in the name of environmentalism. The controversial order has now come to the forefront again, as Biden has backed off US sanctions against a similar Russian pipeline. Many KXL supporters see this as a double standard from the Biden administration – banning a pipeline that would provide American jobs and stimulate the American economy while, in essence, supporting a Russian pipeline that would provide Russian jobs and advance Russian political interests.
The KXL pipeline was originally designed as an extension of the Keystone Pipeline System, which transmits crude oil from Canada’s northernmost oil fields into the United States, that former President Trump supported during his presidency. In the 2020 election, however, climate change and environmental protection policy took center stage, particularly in the Democratic primaries, and Biden placed the issue at the heart of his campaign. Biden followed through with his campaign promises on his first day in office by signing multiple executive orders geared toward climate change and environmental protection policy including killing the KXL project.
The Nord Stream 2 pipeline (NS2) has now taken center stage of international politics due to its similarities to the KXL pipeline. The NS2 pipeline is a 745 mile offshore natural gas pipeline being constructed by Russian state owned energy company Gazprom. It is designed to bring Russia’s largest oil reserves in the north to market around the world, and Vladimir Putin stated that the pipeline “…is a purely economic project…” but many other nations, in particular the United States and Ukraine, have questioned Putin’s motivations and intentions for the project by implying that the pipeline is an extension of Russia’s aggressive political actions against the sovereignty of Ukraine and cyber attacks directed at the US.
Originally, the Justice Department had included sanctions against the Gazprom subsidiary Nord Stream 2 as part of the group of sanctions against Russia in response to Russia’s SolarWinds cyber espionage campaign and Russia’s recent attempts to interfere with US elections. However, President Joe Biden has now reversed course and granted an exception to sanctions against Russia with regard to the NS2 pipeline. This reversal has been met with substantial bipartisan backlash from Congress.
Senator Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska) gave the following statement on the topic,
Two months ago, President Biden called Putin a ‘killer,’ but today he’s planning to give Putin, his regime, and his cronies massive strategic leverage in Europe. You can’t pretend to be a Russia hawk but then just roll over. It’s wrong to roll back a tool that hurts the completion of a core Putin pet project to weaken NATO. Allowing the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline would be a strategic mistake and the administration should rethink this.
Representative Michael McCaul (R-Texas) echoed Senator Sasse’s comments in his own statement,
If the Putin regime is allowed to finish this pipeline, it will be because the Biden Administration chose to let it happen… I want to be clear: this pipeline is not a simple commercial project that could frustrate our relationship with Berlin. It is a Russian malign influence project that threatens to deepen Europe’s energy dependence on Moscow, render Ukraine more vulnerable to Russian aggression and provide billions of dollars to Putin’s coffers…
Secretary of State, Antony Blinken, had originally told Congress that President Biden and his administration opposed the NS2 project and a spokesman for the State Department had even said that “The Biden Administration has been clear that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline is a Russian geopolitical project that threatens European energy security and that of Ukraine and eastern flank NATO Allies and partners.” As a result of President Biden’s reversal, many politicians are concerned that the President is kowtowing to Russia in the wake of a tense political relationship and pointlessly giving Putin and Russia a strategic advantage in the region.
In addition to the concerns regarding Russia’s foreign policy, politicians in the President’s own base, are accusing the President of reneging on his commitments toward reforming climate change and environmental protection policy. Republicans likewise are infuriated, claiming the President is acting hypocritically and even against the interests of the US by killing the KXL pipeline that would directly benefit the US, while allowing the Russian NS2 pipeline to move forward without any resistance.